The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and US Whooping Crane Coordinator.
Where applicable, CWS stands for Canadian Wildlife Service; USFWS is US Fish and Wildlife Service. Crane monitoring involves cooperative efforts and support by both countries, plus many volunteers and non-profit organizations along the way.
Anyone wanting to contact Tom about the report or the whooping crane projects can reach him via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Other information, including archived copies of these reports, can be found at the Texas Whooping Crane web site at http://www.ccbirding.com/
------------- begin report --------------
An aerial census on 06 April, 2005 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas estimated the number of whooping cranes present at Aransas at 128 adults + 26 young = 154 total. The current estimated size of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population is 182 + 33 = 215.
Recap of cranes observed on the flight: (154)
adults + young
Refuge 34 + 8
Lamar 3 + 1
San Jose 34 + 9
Matagorda 42 + 7
Welder Flats 15 + 1
Total 128 + 26 = 154
Remarks: Excellent viewing conditions were present throughout the day with a complete census flown. With winds from the west, no cranes are expected to start migration April 6 or 7.
An estimated 61 whooping cranes (54 adults and 7 young) have started the migration since the last flight on March 23. Three cranes were observed by a tour boat high over the refuge leaving in migration on April 3. Conditions were excellent for initiating migration on April 3-5. A few cranes also may have started migration on March 29 with favorable conditions present.
The chick that wintered 75 miles north of Aransas was last reported in Texas on March 18. It was confirmed present on March 28th on the Platte River just east of Grand Island, Nebraska Although this juvenile did not start the migration with sandhills, it had caught up to them on the Platte. After a stay of six days on the Platte, it was observed heading north on April 2. Six adult cranes were confirmed present in the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska on April 5-6.
At Aransas, the Lobstick chick is sick. Its head and neck are swollen, it is holding its head at a sideways angle with the bill slanted down, and it is not feeding. However, after spending 4 days in the same location and frequently sitting, it apparently flew to another part of its territory where it is staying close to its parents, walking after them and standing as they forage. Efforts on April 5 to approach the chick to see if capture was possible showed the chick would walk away and keep its distance from pursuers. We will continue to monitor the chick.
On today's flight, tides were low and most cranes were in ponds or open water areas. Five cranes were in open bay habitat, all at Welder Flats. No cranes were sighted on prescribed burns or uplands. One subadult crane was located south of Holiday Beach. No cranes were found north of the former Bomber Base on the north end of Matagorda Island where a duo had been present on March 23.
Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 100
Austwell, TX 77950
(361) 286-3559 Ext. 221
fax (361) 286-3722
------------- end report ----------------
Patty Waits Beasley
Corpus Christi, TX